Tag Archives: Civic

Wonderful article by Haider Nizamani – States do let go of territories

In an op-ed titled “Be strong, not hard”, published in these pages on February 21, Ejaz Haider problematises conflict in Balochistan and offers suggestions to Islamabad on how to tackle the crisis in the troubled province. The premise of his argument is on the assumption that all states are alike when it comes to dealing with people wanting to secede from them. He puts it unequivocally in following words: “Balochistan is indeed Pakistan’s internal issue. Those who want Balochistan to secede from Pakistan will get the state’s full reply. That too, given how states behave, is a foregone conclusion. Hell, states don’t even let go of disputed territories and care even less about whether or not people in those territories want to live with them.”

Historical and empirical evidence of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, fortunately, does not validate Ejaz Haider’s claim. States do care if people living in their jurisdictions want to stay under existing arrangements or not. Contrary to Ejaz Haider’s claim, states do let go of people and territories through peaceful means.

I will cite three cases where the states in question have behaved peacefully while dealing with political actors who have championed the cause of independence from them. My argument, therefore, is that not all states are alike and the outcomes of independence movements vary significantly.

Let us look at the former Czechoslovakia, a state where leaders peacefully decided in 1992 to split into two countries — Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 1989, Vaclav Havel’s Civic Forum led the peaceful movement against the communist regime. This movement because of its ability to affect political change through nonviolent means got the title of the Velvet Revolution. Viladimir Meciar’s Movement for a Democratic Slovakia emerged as a leading party in Slovakia demanding greater autonomy for the region. Unable to get along in a federation, the Czech and Slovak leaders passed the law on December 27, 1992 to go their separate ways. Three years into the Velvet Revolution, Czech and Slovakia opted for the velvet divorce.

The Quebec sovereignty movement in Canada is another case where the central government has chosen to deal with the demand for sovereignty through peaceful means. The Parti Quebecois (PQ), pro-sovereignty party in Canada’s second most populous province, was in power in the 1990s. The PQ held a referendum in the province in 1995 asking people if they would like to form an independent country. The PQ lost the referendum by a razor-thin margin of less than one per cent. The Canadian government, at no point, had indicated or implied the use of force to suppress the Quebec separatists.

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Sindhi Gathering in Washington

By Khalid Hashmani

A Sindhi Sham with focus on Sindhi Rights was graciously hosted by Mrs. Nasreen and Mr. Iqbal Tareen at their residence on Sunday, January 9, 2011. The main purpose of the get-together was to meet a visiting young Sindhi leader Mr. Nizam Nizamani and exchange views on Sindhi affairs. However, the discussion soon turned into taking a candid look at the state of Sindhi Rights and potential solutions for resolving issues faced by Sindhis. The discussion group included Mr. Sohail Ansari, Mrs. Ayesha Babar, Mr. Aleem Brohi, Mr. Khalid Hashmani, Mr. Nizam Nizamani, Mr. Zahid Makhdoom, Mr. Ali Nawaz Memon, Mrs. Nazli Siddiki, Mr. Shafique Siddiki, Mrs. Nasreen Tareen and Mr. Iqbal Tareen. The session lasted several hours and resulted in some tangible recommendations – mainly that all Sindhi groups and political parties should formulate a minimum tangible agenda on which every one is in agreement and diligently work together until those goals are achieved. A synopsis of the meeting, organized by the main topics discussed at the meeting is shared below with the hope that Sindhis all over the world will have similar sessions in the cities, towns, and villages where they live so that a unified campaign can emerge to further the cause of Sindhi Rights. …

Strengths and Weaknesses of Sindhis

Some of the participants were of the views that Sindhis are a much stronger and organized nation than perceived by some. They gave the example of total shut-down of Sindh for several days after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto as an evidence that Sindhis are much stronger and willing to show force. Another example provided was that Sindhi political parties were able to organize large gatherings attended by hundreds of thousands of people in Karachi, Sindh was a sign of emerging organization and strength of Sindhis. The fact that there were six (6) Sindhi television channels, several FM radio stations broadcasting in Sindhi, and scores of Sindhi newspapers and magazines demonstrates clearly that Sindhis are successfully protecting and advancing their culture and heritage.

The counter point of view was that the Sindhis were not organized and had neither leadership nor direction. The strong reaction of Sindhis after the state murder of Benazir Bhutto was rather an exception prompted by emotions, and not an evidence that the reaction was well-calculated, well-articulated. … They gave an example that in spite of hundreds of thousands of Sindhis living in the core central areas of Karachi, Sindhis do not have a single Sindhi-medium school. … Another example they gave was that many leaders of key political parties live in Qasimabad area of Hyderabad and yet the area has no civic services. There is no sanitation system. All garbage is simply piled up in front of houses on the main streets of Qasimabad. How are these leaders going to help us to achieve Sindhi Rights when they cannot even organize people of one small area to create a rudimentary system that keeps streets of Qasimabad clean and safe?

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, January 15, 2011.

Sukkur’s misery

by: Altaf Hussain Qureshi

Sukkur, the third largest City of Sindh , because of its excellent geographical location, was considered to be one of the most prosperous, culturally, socially as well as economically, not only after partition of subcontinent but even before that. Unfortunately for some time this once beautiful city has been completely ignored by the very people who are made in charge of its civic affairs. As a result its entire roads and lanes are in complete shambles; sewerage gutters are flowing into the houses of low-lying areas where most the poor and middle class people live and multistory buildings have mushroomed with so much of speed with the active blessing of its Nazim that even pedestrians find it difficult to cross streets. One such building which was built few months back has collapsed due to substandard material used in the construction. This horrible incident has taken many innocent lives…

Of all the miseries, although Sukkur is on the bank of River Indus yet its residents have no potable water available, therefore they are forced to drink unhygienic water resulting in spread of hepatitis C.

I also urged the government, if it is really interested in the well-being of the people of Sukkur to please hold impartial audit of the funds allocated to city. But of course there should not be party politics involved so far audit of the funds is concerned.

11th January 2009